‘Kingsclere,’ built in 1912 and considered to be Australia’s first high-rise block of flats, is an icon in Sydney residential development. Situated at the high point of Potts Point at the corner of Macleay Street and Greenknowe, Kingsclere was constructed by society architects Maurice Halligan and Frederick Wilton in the then-modern Edwardian style dressed in brick and sandstone. The apartments were luxurious and modern for the time, featuring “6 rooms, kitchen, pantry, two bathrooms, lavatories, linen, cooks’ and housemaids’ cupboards. There are two balconies and an escape stair to each flat …” (Building, December 12 1912). At the time of construction, the 8-storey apartment block towered over neighbouring Victorian mansions and row houses; it was a full seven years before another apartment block would join Kingsclere in Potts Point (‘Savoy’, designed by Claud Hamilton was built in 1919). The gutsy apartment block development was commissioned by the Albert family and drew inspiration from the far larger and grander apartment blocks of New York City - a location where the city’s establishment entirely moved from single-family homes or row houses to apartment living in the space of one generation from the late 19th century to the First World War. The Albert family maintained ownership of Kingsclere until 1995, when a group of developers acquired the block, extensively renovated the building, and sold off the 17 apartments for around the $500k-$600k mark each.
There have been a handful of sales in the block in the last few years, including the $2.25m sale of Unit 3 in Oct 2010 and the $2.65m sale of Unit 14 six months later in Apr 2011. However, the priciest sale is held by the well-renovated top-floor apartment Unit 17, which traded hands in Dec 2010 for $3.45m. Interestingly enough, this same apartment has emerged on the market once again; providing Sydney real estate watchers with the chance to assess price adjustments in the last two years. The two-bedroom, two-bath, one-car spot apartment played host to an expensive renovation between its Aug 2004 sale for $1.75m and its most recent sale. Internal restructuring paved the way for a large ensuite bathroom, an eat-in kitchen, parquetry flooring, wood-panelled walls, and extensive use of marble. On the downside? The ceilings (in typical BKH fashion) have been stripped of any original mouldings and two unfortunately-located support columns break-up the house in all their mirrored glory. Perhaps that’s why Jason Boon and Geoff Cox of Richardson & Wrench have priced the home indicatively in the low-$3mils, meaning we may have a “loser” on our hands if the sale doesn’t break the $3.45m mark.
The listing: 17/1 Greenknowe Ave, Elizabeth Bay/Potts Point